Haiti, 6 months later and recovering

Haiti, 6 months later and recovering

Haiti, 6 months later and recovering

Damien Queally of Plan gives an insight into life in the devastated country.

The earthquake in Haiti was one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen and 6 months later (Monday 12th July) the country is, at last, in a state of recovery. 

Damien Queally from the NGO Plan Ireland has spent the past 3 months in Haiti working with the relief effort there, as part of the team of consultants deciding on where the €20 million fund donated by Plan should be allocated.  His firsthand experience of the situation paints a picture of a country desperate to move on.

“Demolition of unsafe buildings has just begun as the effort over the last few months was focused on life saving.  There’s also a huge amount of debris and rubble to be cleared and to do that heavy machinery is required.  In some places there are still bodies under the fallen buildings,” he says.

With over 300,000 dead and nearly the same number of homes destroyed Haiti has experienced hardship in the extreme.  In one way, however, the people are used to it and are adapting as Damien explains.

“Haitians are used to problems, they’ve dealt with floods, hurricanes, military coups d’etat, so much violence, that this is just another bump in the road that they’ve been adapting to all their lives.  Sometimes you see a look of resignation on their faces but the youth have great hope for the country, they have a bright clear vision for the future.”

“The rain and hurricane season is upon the country again now so it’s facing new emergencies.  There are still many families living in tents beside riverbanks and at the bottom of hills so there is a big risk of landslides with the floods and some people are in immediate danger.”

With the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake upcoming, how does Damien feel about the progress that has been made?

“Well 6 months down the line I think a huge amount has been achieved.  In that time four million people have received food from aid agencies, 1.2 million have had access to temporary shelter; hundreds of thousands of children are back to school.  Plan has made great inroads into working with children in areas such as child safety and psycho-social counselling and there are 112 mobile clinics in operation.

“There’s so much work to do though and we still need people’s help.”

There are 198 children in Haiti sponsored by Irish people through Plan and all of them are safe and well. To donate to Plan in Haiti call freephone 1800 829 829 or visit www.plan.ie.

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